Lessons from a Group Leader

ashley_land

I had no idea that the College Prep Scholarship was a thing until I was already a Quest Scholar at my respective school, but that just goes to show that you all are really on top of your game. I don’t think I was nearly as prepared to go into my senior year of high school than the dedicated, intelligent, and diligent students I met at the conference. The fact that you all took time out of your present summers to do something that is going to benefit your futures, (it will trust me), shows that your futures are already bright.

I honestly cannot believe I am about to be a junior at one of the most elite colleges in the country–the long nights doing college apps, the endless research at the library and on the internet for scholarships, the constant nagging from my parents about if I was making the right decisions, the persistent proofreading of every morsel of information I put into the 1000 character essay that was going to dictate my destiny one way or another–it all doesn’t seem so far in the past.

All I can say is that receiving an acceptance letter from that school that was in your top ten, your top five, or even your dream school will definitely feel satisfying. I definitely know that all of you College Prep Scholars are on the right track to getting those acceptance letters and I don’t know what a washed up upperclassman like me could tell you that you probably don’t already know.

The only piece of advice that I can  give is that I know for us low-income students, a key factor that turns up when choosing a college is the financial aid package. Money (or lack thereof) has been a key factor in many of our lives for a long time. What I want to share with all of you is that yes money is a factor, but it should not be the deciding factor. You have overcome so much adversity and  and you deserve to get a top-tier college education at a school that makes you happiest AND takes the least amount of money out of your pocket.

I believe in my heart of hearts that this is truly possible especially with help of organizations like QuestBridge that are showing elite colleges that low-income students can excel at elite institutions just like everyone else. For such a long time being low-income has been a problem for students like us, but being low-income is just an economic status. It should not define who you are and the mental capacity that you have. If anything it should only define where you are going because there is only one way to go from the bottom and that’s up.

Being low-income does not have to be your dirty little secret anymore, it can now can be your super power because you have experience on handling life’s difficulties. You have overcome obstacles before and you will overcome them time and time again. I am currently thriving in college. I am going abroad this semester, I am basically getting a full ride, and I am loving the people that I get to call my professors and peers. Best part is that I am getting to stimulate my mind and grow each and every single day. I can say that going to college was a dream come true and I believe that it will come true for you all too, just stay positive, keep up the hard work, and believe in yourself, you deserve it!

— by Ashley Land, Quest Scholar, Pomona ’16